(Photo credit: Luis M. Alvarez)
Risking dropping their second straight game to a sub-par team, the Washington Capitals were rescued by none other than Jason Chimera, a healthy scratch just a game ago.
For Chimera it was sweet redemption and “especially nice” that it came against his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Despite the win, victory wasn’t easy for Washington with sloppy play plaguing the Caps throughout the night.
“We did not do a very good job tonight,” veteran center Jason Arnott said. “There were a lot of bouncing pucks, a lot of nonchalant plays that we don’t normally make … We have to clean up our own zone, it starts tomorrow with the video, and try to correct it and come up with a better effort to back our goaltender up.”
Head Coach Bruce Boudreau seemed to agree Arnott’s view that the Capitals must play better in front of young netminder Michal Neuvirth.
“The goals that went in he wasn’t going to stop,” Boudreau said. “When the game is on the line he is there. Doesn’t matter if you have five by him or one by him. He’s really good when the game is on the line, and he had to make some real good saves at the end to preserve it. To me, that is the sign of a real winner.”
The Capitals opened the scoring just 1:39 into the match when John Carlson tipped home the rebound off Chimera’s knuckling shot, which deflected off the catching glove of Jackets goalie Steve Mason. The puck ricocheted off numerous players, including Brooks Laich before Carlson got the lucky bounce. With three minutes remaining in the frame, John Erskine and Jared Boll dropped the gloves. Neither combatant landed many punches, but Boll appeared to get the better of the Lumberjack before the two went down. The Caps dominated in the first period, outshooting the Columbus, 16-4.
Midway through the second stanza, the crazy started happenin’. After a scramble in front of the net, Antoine Vermette popped one past Neuvirth. Just over a minute and a half later, however, Mike Knuble put Washington back on top when he Knuble’d the biscuit into the back of the net after a Nicklas Backstrom shot got past Mason. However, (are you noticing a pattern here) just 42 seconds later Columbus would knot it up once again when Fedor Tyutin fooled Neuvirth with a wrister. Not to be outdone for the second time in as many minutes, Arnott made the score three-two Washington after a great feed for Marco Sturm. Four goals. Two minutes and 17 seconds. Got all that? Didn’t think so.
The Capitals would hold that lead for 14 minutes and 23 seconds into the third, until Scottie Upshall held off both Karl Alzner and Sturm as they tried to remove him from the puck before rifling a wrist shot past Neuvirth. Tie game.
In overtime, well, you know the drill. Chimera chips it in and there’s your ballgame. Caps down Jackets, 4-3 (OT)
Despite the win, the Jackets rallied three times while down by a goal against the Caps. To succeed in the playoffs you need a killer instinct, something Washington lacked against Columbus.
Four games. That’s all that remains until the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll see you back here Saturday night, though it is Nicklas Backstrom bobblehead day, so we won’t blame you for heading to the game.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.
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